Subcommittee Names Four Finalist Cities for CIRM Headquarters
San Francisco's bid to host the headquarters of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine topped a preliminary list of finalists made by CIRM and the Department of General Services, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. San Francisco scored 158 out of 200 points on the evaluation, followed by Sacramento with 133 points, San Diego with 116 points and Emeryville with 113 points (Murphy/Lelchuk, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/13).
Six cities' bids for the headquarters of the stem cell agency created by Proposition 71, including Los Angeles and San Jose, were rejected because they either did not include all necessary paperwork or otherwise failed to fill all requirements (Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 4/13). Long Beach's proposal also was among those disqualified (Sheppard/Hopkins, Los Angeles Daily News, 4/13).
An eight-member site selection subcommittee of CIRM's Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee was scheduled to meet on Wednesday to evaluate the finalists. The subcommittee "could resurrect the rejected proposals, and it could change the finalists' scores," the Sacramento Bee reports.
At least two subcommittee members will tour each finalist's proposed headquarters in the next two weeks. The full subcommittee on May 2 is scheduled to select two finalists, and the full ICOC plans to choose a location on May 6.
ICOC Chair Robert Klein and Vice Chair Edward Penhoet designated the number of regional biomedical employees as the most important factor in choosing a site. San Francisco scored a 45 out of 60 possible points in this category, with Sacramento scoring 18 out of 60 (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 4/13).
San Diego scored 11 points out of a possible 25 on the number of life-science professionals employed within a 45 minute radius of the proposed facility site. San Francisco's proposal scored 25 points, and Emeryville scored 23 points (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/13).
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) said the subcommittee's findings indicate that the city's "bid is extraordinarily competitive." Newsom said $11 million in private-sector contributions, including lab space formerly occupied by the J. David Gladstone Institutes at San Francisco General Hospital, strengthened San Francisco's bid.
Newsom "considers San Diego to be the stiffest competition," the Chronicle reports.
"We are very concerned that there is a lot of political pressure, a lot of political support down south and that's where we're doing our best to remind people of all the benefits of being in the birthplace of biotech, the birthplace of stem cell discovery," Newsom said (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/13).
Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo (D) said, "I am really pleased with how well we have done in the competition so far" (Sacramento Bee, 4/13).
Julie Meier Wright, president of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., wrote in a letter to Klein that the group was "mystified by San Diego's rankings in certain categories." She added, "There is no other community that can match our concentration of biomedical personnel and research institutes, as we clearly noted in the proposal." Meier Wright requested that the subcommittee "not accept the scores offered by staff."
Joe Panetta, president of the San Diego trade group Biocom, said, "[W]hen it comes to research, all studies show San Diego is out front." Panetta said the subcommittee's visit to San Diego will be "an opportunity to emphasize" the "community support and collaboration that San Diego's biotech community is known for" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/13).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Tuesday reported on San Diego's standing as one of the four finalists. The segment includes comments from Meier Wright (Anderson, "KPBS News," KPBS, 4/12). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
In related news, CNN's "Inside Politics" on Tuesday included an interview with Dana Reeve, the widow of deceased actor and embryonic stem cell research activist Christopher Reeve. Reeve said the "ground swell of popular support" and the passage of Proposition 71 was "substantial," adding that the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation worked with Klein (Woodruff, "Inside Politics," CNN, 4/12). The complete transcript of the program is available online.